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Instagram Marketing

Instagram Marketing 101

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Intro

Instagram is different from other social media platforms in the sense that words become nearly obsolete in your posts. While post titles and descriptions are important, Instagram is primarily focused on the visual aspect of your content and how others perceive it. While photographs are important on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, they are the sole focus and purpose of Instagram. Because of this, Instagram users follow different rules when marketing with existing and potential new customers. This article will help you become an Instagram master and an effective marketer on Facebook’s sister platform.

Profile Optimization

When creating an Instagram account, the first step needs to be your profile’s optimization. If your profile does not accurately represent your business, then your Instagram marketing tactics will suffer. An optimized profile contains relevant information but doesn’t overload the user. Remember that Instagram is a visual platform, and long chains of block text are not appealing in a visual focus. An appropriate Instagram profile contains the company logo, or the logo for the business channel you are promoting. The bio section contains unique information, such as the mission statement, slogan, or appropriate identifier. The bio section is also a great place to keep your website link. You can always direct Instagram users to this bio and this link via your later posts. The profile, when properly optimized, is a reference point for users to get a feel of your content, your business, and they can benefit themselves from following your page.

Followers

When establishing your Instagram presence, it is important not just to receive a multitude of followers of your own, but also to follow relevant accounts yourself. It is important to remember that your page’s follower list is a part of its brand. Current and potential followers may resort to the accounts listed on your followers list as references for what your brand is about, similar brands, or what kinds of accounts your business is associated with.

Follow business that work in tandem with yours, or business that you already in partnership with. These connections may provide opportunities for your business to cross-promote across Instagram accounts or to receive traffic via the direction of other accounts you follow.

Another result of following a multitude of accounts is that it is an easy way to receive a follow back and to bolster your business’ follower count. This is not necessary, but it can help grow your Instagram audience when starting out. This is especially effective when promoting self-help or personal growth items, and/or humorous posts. An increased follower count may give your Instagram profile extra credibility. However, you must also consider the fact that a multitude of unrelated followers, or those not also promoting products and services similar to your own, may damage your brand if left unchecked.

Be smart about what accounts your page follows. Decide how you see best to expand your Instagram presence and move forwards from there.

Relevant Hashtags

Hashtags are primarily a tool of Twitter and Instagram. The basic principles of a hashtag are the same between the two platforms. Hashtags help brand your individual posts, to connect your similar posts to one another, and to connect your posts to similar posts all across the social media platform. Hashtags can be one word or a simple phrase. When using Hashtags, it is important not to let a single hashtag run on. A few words, such as three or four, is fine. When your hashtags run on for more than three of four words, they start to disrupt the visual appeal of the post and clutter your description space. A few, simple hashtags can better summarize the key topics and concepts of a post rather than one long hashtag.

When applying hashtags to your Instagram posts, relevancy is key. If your hashtags reference concepts, content, and ideas not present in the photographic post, they mislead both the Instagram search algorithms and Instagram users. Misleading either of these parties ensures that your business page will not be looked on as favorably and it could be marked as a profile with irrelevant content. Make sure that your hashtags are both on brand with your profile and with each individual post to ensure that your profile is not docked for improper hashtagging.

Branded Hashtags

Hashtag relevancy is the first appropriate step to successfully labeling and organizing your Instagram posts. However, the concept of hashtags goes a step further. Hashtags are also a great way to uniquely brand your content. Hashtags afford your business the opportunity to create unique, branded labels that can be applied to any of your posts. Branded Hashtags, are hashtags which are created uniquely for your posts, or that are uniquely targeted hashtags that help identify your brand, your posts, and your business.

Branded Hashtags may run on longer than the typical hashtag, as they help specify your business and set it apart. Examples of branded hashtags may include, but are not limited to; a business slogan, a key phrase closely linked with your business, a product name, or a service name. Branded Hashtags help users to better identify and understand your business from post to post. While these hashtags are less likely to generate visitors by direct search, they help your brand stand out and become unique in the mind of the Instagram user.

Cross Promotion

Cross Promotion can be defined in several ways. For the sake of this article, cross promotion refers to the act of posting, or promoting, content from one social media platform onto another. In the case of Instagram, the most direct and common platform to cross-post on is Facebook. As Facebook owns and manages Instagram, it is designed to effectively utilize Facebook when posting from one social media platform to the other.

Cross-Promotion is not essential to marketing via Instagram, but it is a great tool to have at your page’s disposal. Cross-Promotion aids significantly in launching a profile on a new platform. For example, if you are just starting out on Instagram, you can cross-post your Instagram posts to your Facebook page in order to engage already subscribed users. Facebook users can see your Instagram content and be funneled to your Instagram page, therefore strengthening its presence and allowing for your existing Facebook users to be continued supporters of your business on social media and across more platforms. This means that the average follower is being exposed to a greater amount of what you have to offer them.

Post Frequency

If you are not actively posting via your social media account on any platform, users and followers will quickly disengage with your business. Active participation lets users know that your platform and your company are both accessible and available on a regular basis. What does active participation mean? How often should your business be posting?

The answers to these questions vary from business to business and profile to profile. However, there are overlying answers that apply universally to all platforms and profiles. The important thing to consider when evaluating your page’s posting frequency is its consistency. If your business posts regularly at specified times, or keeps enough content coming in to engage its audience, you are posting consistently. Typically, the larger your audience, the greater the frequency of your posts can be.

Social Media marketing is all about appealing to a user and funneling them through the proper channels. In order to funnel them properly, you need to make sure that you are meeting their social media needs. Consistent posting reminds users that your profile is there, and it reminds them of the needs that your platform and business can fulfill.

Industry Shout-outs

Industry Shout-Outs can come in many forms. Another way of viewing this aspect of proper social media marketing is by looking at it as a form of professional engagement. When you follow or are followed by another credible business page or social media platform, you are engaging with them. When you reply to one of their posts, or they like one of yours, that engagement continues. While having an accredited institution or similar profile follow yours lends your business some social credibility, another page simply liking or replying to one of your posts does not necessarily lend the same credibility.

All engagement with well-received profiles is beneficial to your business’ social media presence. However, professional-engagement provides much greater credibility to your business because it involves being acknowledged by a competing or collaborating business. When another business shares some of your content or tags your profile in its own continent for mutual benefit, it is professionally engaging with your business and Instagram profile. You can professionally engage with other business in order to encourage greater engagement with your own business. Tag your business partners in posts and encourage them to share content you are creating. Reaffirm this relationship by sharing some of their content and engaging with them whenever appropriate.

Consumer Interaction

As well as engaging with businesses, it is equally important to engage with customers and users as well. Engaging with customers comes in a similar manner to how you engage with businesses in a professional manner. When users like or share your posts, they are engaging with you. You can further engage with them by commenting or replying to their comments, and by liking and/or sharing their comments and additional content when applicable. An effective way to share user content is by sharing any posts that customers make in praise of your product or service. These testimonials, when delivered from your social media platform, lend credibility to the effectiveness and need for what your business has to offer.

Contests

Instagram Contests are a great way to engage with your users and to get them to share your content with other users. Instagram Contests are also a great way to quickly expand your follower base. The gist of an Instagram Contest is simple. Your profile or business creates an offer, typically something related to what your business already offers. If you offer a service, a demo or trial giveaway is a great offer, unrelated offers such as gift cards and hotel stays can also be applicable. Your business then promotes the offer and establishes the rules for entering the contest. These rules may vary, but most often consist with stipulations that the winner must like and share the original post, and/or follow the primary account page. Then the means of entry are established. An easy and accessible means of entry is to require participants to create their own post with a specified hashtag that relates to whatever the pre-determined theme of the contest is. Then your business selects a winner from the hashtag pool.

Whether or not an individual user wins the contest, they are engaged with your platform so long as the follow the contest requirements. Any user who submits to the contest is helping to promote your platform and increase engagement with your social media presence.

Calls to Action

Remember that all social media platforms serve as a funnel for your business. Instagram, similar to YouTube and Facebook, is not the place to perform the hard sell. That being said, Instagram is the perfect place to perform a call to action. Use the content you are creating for the platform to engage with audiences and direct them towards your business’ website or the appropriate sales funnel. Encourage users to comment, share, and follow the link in your bio in order to better engage with your business and the hard sell.

Conclusion

Instagram is a visual social media platform. The images you create are not designed to sell to customers, but to engage and interact with them. Take advantage of the engagement to funnel customers towards your business website. Make sure that your content is posted frequently, is relatable, and can be used to engage with both professional and personal profiles. Encourage the use of branded hashtags and contests to rapidly expand your follower count and to use Instagram to its maximum potential.

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